Foods and Feeding

Choosing foods appropriate for your aquarium should pose little difficulty if you keep a few basic points in mind. Saltwater fish tend to be specialists when it comes to food. Quite a few vegetarians exist, for example. Some of them feed on many types of algae, others need a specific kind. Carnivores can usually be satisfied with a varied diet, but some feed only on specific classes of food, such as crustaceans. Many predatory saltwater fish need the movement of living prey to stimulate their...

Indo Pacific Upper Fore Reef

This is the model design that many reef tank enthusiasts aspire to. The corals found in this high-energy environment demand plenty of light and water movement but will reward you with a stunning exhibit. Aquarium Capacity 120 to 180 gallons Life Support live rock, live sand, standard reef filtration Lighting two to three 150-watt metal halide lamps, depending upon Background pale blue Decoration none Special Requirements calcium above 400 ppm, alkalinity at about 4 Meq L, very low levels of...

An Eels Lair

Of all the big fish found in aquarium shops, few inspire the attention enjoyed by eels. People seem to find eels either repulsive or adorable no one seems to be on the fence about them. Here's a model design that can be scaled for any eel you are likely to encounter. Aquarium Capacity 40 to 120 gallons crushed coral rock fine grade coral rock a few large pieces branching coral skeletons artificial or natural Background black Moray eel 1 (see text) Eels excel at finding a way to escape the tank....

Guidelines for Design

Creating an aquarium involves bringing together diverse elements, both living and nonliving, and integrating them into a functioning system. An aquarium is not a true ecosystem, of course, but does tend to exhibit many of the characteristics of natural ecosystems. A simplistic example is the formation of an aquarium food web. Even in the absence of added food, an aquarium contains producers, consumers, and degraders, whose lives depend, at least to some extent, upon each other. Algae growing on...

Utilitarian Invertebrates

I have alluded to this group several times previously. I define utilitarian invertebrate as any that the aquarist adds, deliberately or by accident, that perform some useful ecological task. Such critters may or may not also be colorful and entertaining to watch. Algae-grazers, including snails, hermit crabs, and small sea urchins, fit the category, as do brittle stars, burrowing sea cucumbers, echiurids, and peanut worms. We can also include sponges, bryozoans, hydrozoans, and many kinds of...

The Blue Lagoon

Clear shallow water and relative calm characterize the lagoon. Here live some of the most lovely species collected for the aquarium. Lagoons often have a floor of sediment with tiny patch reefs dotted here and there. This diversity of topography and bottom type result in a correspondingly diverse fauna and flora. Aquarium Capacity 75 gallons Life Support live rock, live sand, standard reef filtration Lighting two 150-watt metal halide lamps Background deep blue Decoration none Special...

Model Design

Seahorses rank among the most engaging animals in the sea. As seahorse expert Dr. Amanda Vincent likes to say, It's the only fish that holds your hand. Seahorses wrap their prehensile tails around stationary objects, and will use your fingers for that purpose when you have your hands in the tank. Although they are cute and fascinating, seahorses present significant challenges as aquarium specimens. Don't try this model design unless you are prepared to provide your herd with live foods on a...

Indo Pacific Fish Community I

This model design is really more of a formula for creating a harmonious community of saltwater fish. I call it the Chinese menu approach, as in choose one from column A and one from column B. In the confines of the aquarium, reef fish will exhibit aggression toward each other unless chosen with care. Two basic rules apply here Unless you know for certain that the species tolerates its own kind or you have a mated pair, never place two individuals of the same species in the same tank. Choose...

Aquascaping with Rock

Fish-only aquariums can be aquascaped either with live rock, dry rock, coral skeletons, or a combination of all three. Add these items before the substrate, so they will sit securely on the bottom of the tank. Also, rocks, live or dead, look more natural if partially buried. Place a flat rock across two rocks of similar height and you've made the simplest kind of shelter for a saltwater fish. Reef fish are generally territorial, and their need for personal space becomes more pronounced in the...

Biotope Tanks

Any display of reef fish impresses with bold colors and constant motion. For sheer fascination, however, minireef aquariums offer more than any fish-only tank can. Defining what, exactly, constitutes a minireef depends upon whom you ask, but a typical example features sessile invertebrates and live rock. Fishes, if included, are species that will leave the invertebrates alone. Beyond that basic pattern, aquarists have set up everything from minireefs devoted to different color forms of the same...

Diet Related Problems

A condition known as head and lateral line erosion, abbreviated HLLE, appears to be caused by an insufficiency of some important food component. It most often develops in vegetarian or mostly vegetarian fishes, such as tangs, angelfish, and damselfish. Areas around the face and gill covers lose coloration and take on an eroded appearance. The fish looks debilitated, although it may feed and swim normally. Eventually, the problem spreads along the lateral line, giving the whole fish a decidedly...

Nuts and Bolts

This chapter concerns itself primarily with the practical aspects of incorporating an aquarium into the d cor of a room in your home. The basic premise of the book is that the aquarium's primary function is decorative, as opposed to, say, reproductive, for breeding a certain species of fish. To retain the aquarium's decorative value over the long term requires planning. Unlike nonliving art, the aquarium is dynamic, always changing due to the growth, maturation, and, yes, death, of its...

Venomous Invertebrates

Many people not familiar with the saltwater aquarium trade will be shocked to know this, but sometimes invertebrates are imported that can cause human fatalities. While only the most irresponsible person would do so knowingly, aquarists have brought home colorful specimens without knowing what they are buying. Include yours truly in that group. I fortunately learned about the real dangers in time to avoid harm. The stinging properties of some coelenterates reach epic proportions in a few. Fire...

Classification of Saltwater Fish

Believe it or not, although nearly 25,000 fish species have been described, biologists disagree about what should be called a fish. Old schoolers include the jawless hagfishes and lampreys, as well as sharks, rays, and skates, with the bony fishes in one big vertebrate class. New thinking separates the bony fishes from the others and creates four groups at the taxonomic level of class. Thus, jawless fishes comprise the superclass Agnatha (jawless), with one class for hagfishes and another for...

BreakIn Period

Live rock and live sand seed the aquarium with beneficial bacteria and a host of other organisms. A fish-only system decorated entirely with dead rock and sand must have a source for these microscopic helpers. When you are finished aquascaping, add a bag of commercially packaged live sand on top of the substrate, or place a few small pieces of live rock in the tank. You can also purchase cultured bacterial tank starters, but I prefer using the natural materials. The bacteria need a source of...

Saltwater Aquarium Models

Recipes for Creating Beautiful Aquariums That Thrive Copyright 2007 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. All rights reserved. Photography Aaron Norman Howell Book House Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United...

Sources of Saltwater Specimens

Saltwater aquarium enthusiasts have a plethora of choices for purchasing both supplies and livestock, from local specialty dealers to big-box pet retail chains to mail-order suppliers. Finding the right combination of these for your aquarium needs will facilitate the creation of the tank you want at a cost you can afford. Look for a store with a large saltwater dry goods section and a varied inventory of healthy marine fishes and invertebrates living in well-maintained holding tanks. A dirty,...

Polka Dot Grouper

I hesitate to include this fish because it has been overfished in many parts of its range, both for the aquarium and as a food fish. For a truly bulletproof tank subject, however, this big grouper is hard to best. Aquarium Capacity At least 75 gallons, preferably larger crushed coral rock fine grade coral rock a few large pieces coral skeletons artificial or natural Background see text Chromileptes altivelis up to 3 Start this fish in a large tank, and you won't be faced with a crisis when it...

Water Movement

Sessile invertebrates benefit from strong currents that wash away wastes and bring nutrients and oxygen to them. Fish get exercise by swimming against currents. Any saltwater aquarium benefits from all the water movement you can provide, as long as it is not so vigorous as to slosh water over the rim. The return pipe from the sump discharges water in one direction only, and in a continuous stream. Natural water movement on the reef is multidirectional and intermittent. You can simulate natural...

Plumbing

The most universally useful system design, as mentioned in chapter 5, Nuts and Bolts, employs a sump underneath the tank. Other devices can be used, especially on smaller tanks, but none is as satisfactory. For most of the model designs presented later, I assume this system is used. Otherwise, I will make a specific recommendation. Manufacturers produce many tank sizes reef ready. Drilling the drain and installing the standpipe takes place at the factory. Surrounding the standpipe, a plastic...

Floor Load

You must also make certain the floor can carry the weight. Water itself weighs 8 pounds per gallon. Water to fill the 210-gallon tank in our example, therefore, weighs almost 1700 pounds. Substrate will add more weight, not to mention the tank itself, especially if it is made of glass. You should assume the completed aquarium weighs a ton. Dividing by the tank's footprint of twelve square feet yields a load on the floor of 167 pounds per square foot. Typical building code requirements for a...

Free Standing Installations

If you cannot afford a built-in aquarium, you can have plenty of fun not to mention impress your guests with a skillfully done free-standing system. When making the recommendations that follow, I am assuming that one of the aquarium's main purposes is to be an artistic focal point for your living space. Some of my suggestions, therefore, merely enhance the look of the finished tank without affecting its functionality. You can cut corners on these purely decorative options to save money. Do not...

The Designs

The range of creations in this chapter serves to demonstrate the breadth of possibilities for a home saltwater aquarium. Several designs even lend themselves to customization with alternative species, which I note in each model design. An aquarium like this fits in with minimalist d cor. Keeping the white decorations free of algae presents the biggest challenge. You may find, however, that with sufficient light the tank will grow an attractive crop of bright green, filamentous algae. If so, the...

Condylactis and Friends

The primary distinction between this tank and the Bartholomea aquarium is the need for proper lighting for the anemone. Bartholomea lack zooxanthellae and lighting is thus immaterial to its well-being. This model design is a miniature version of the sea grass bed tank described in the previous chapter. Aquarium Capacity 20 gallons long Life Support live sand, hang-on filter with built-in skimmer Lighting two to four fluorescent lamps Background light green Decoration plastic reproductions of...

Lighting Systems

Fluorescent lamps come in many types that vary in terms of their intensity, color, and the amount of electricity they consume. The most important of these factors from a purely aesthetic point of view is the color. Ever notice how people appear unhealthy under industrial fluorescent lighting This is because the lamps typically used in such applications are the cool white type. This lamp imparts a yellowish green cast to everything, although it is supposedly the best for illuminating a work...

Amyloodinium and Cryptocaryon

Two microorganisms, one a free-swimming protozoan and the other a form of algae, are responsible for almost all of the disease problems with which saltwater aquarium enthusiasts must cope. Both of these parasites can be easily treated with copper medication, but a novice aquarist may fail to notice the telltale signs of disease until it is too late. Don't make this common mistake Any fish that exhibits rapid, shallow fanning of the gill covers or that stays in an area of high water movement...

Tank Proportions and Habitat Types

Unless you plan on ordering a custom-built tank, you will have to make do with one of the stock sizes. In my experience, people usually purchase a tank based on their budget. I would suggest you consider both the size and proportions of any tank in terms of how your intended habitat will fit. Appendix C lists typical aquarium sizes from 20 to 300 gallons. A quick inspection of this table reveals that manufacturers maintain certain proportions from one tank to the next. In aquarium lingo, depth...

Catalog of Saltwater Fish

In the foregoing pages, I have covered over one hundred species of saltwater fish and their aquarium care. My list represents roughly one-fourth of the coral reef fish imported for the aquarium trade, but includes 90 percent of the species that are both commonly available and well suited to captive care by a home aquarist. The taxonomic outline should help you make sense of all this diversity. The cross-reference lists will assist you in choosing the perfect fish for any aquarium community you...

Symbiotic Invertebrates

Aside from the well-known symbioses between anemones and clownfish, and between corals and zooxan-thellae, numerous forms of cooperative living have evolved on the reef. Cleaning, for example, is a form of mutualism practiced by many species of crustaceans and fish. The cleaner removes parasites from the host, usually a larger fish, thereby gaining food while performing a valuable service. Distinctive coloration and behavior patterns identify cleaners, and predators often spare them. This has...